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Celebrating 50 years of marriage in our 50th state, Hawaii


July 25, 1963
July 25, 1964

Having our kids and their spouses choose Thanksgiving on the Big Island of Hawaii for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration was a true gift for us all. Scott, Annie, Liam (11) and Cora (8) came from Seattle and Laura, Tucker, Tenn (4) and Oz (1) traveled from Portland. We headed to the tropics after visiting Val’s sister, Ann, and her husband, Johndale, in Scottsdale to celebrate Ann’s 70 years around the sun.
Over Thanksgiving we celebrated our wonderful family on this diverse island with its lava deserts, unspoiled rain forests, beautiful beaches, snow-covered mountains and the active volcano of Kilauea. Scott wisely chose the Mauna Lani Terraces and Hotel, located about an hour north of Kona, for their kid-friendly accessible pools, lush grassy areas right outside the front door, nearby beaches and meandering trails. We snorkeled with turtles, played in the pools, explored the well-preserved ancient fish ponds, ate fresh local food, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. A highlight for the grandkids was the daily popsicle handout at the big pool – tropical flavors were savored by all.popsicle-pool

50thcardLaura, Annie, Scott and Tucker planned and executed a lovely last night 50th anniversary fete. They cooked a tasty dinner, we sang many old family favorite songs with Laura’s great guitar accompaniment, and viewed a slide show with music commemorating our 50 years of marriage. There were lots of fine memories with many questions about various photos from our past, including a framed one of our wedding photo. The grandchildren presented an artful 50th alphabet book composed of drawings and adjectives contributed by all ages – quite moving! Liam and Cora’s art teacher produced a lovely salt-glazed pottery set also. It was a most heartfelt and appreciated fete.ht_IMG_3193

Here are photos of our group enjoying the beach and uplands around the Moana Lani resort:

ht_IMG_3616Our Portland and Seattle families spent 4 days on the island and after they had flown home, we based ourselves at an Airbnb for another 4 days of exploration. Our hosts, Tom and Adriane and their niece, Yustina, (who just arrived from Poland), had great ideas for on how to get off the beaten track and were most generous in many ways. One day we sailed and rowed on Hilo Bay in a traditional Hawaiian double-hulled canoe with Kiko, a boat-building friend of Scott’s. Kiko’s handmade boat has hulls which are lashed together and is propelled through the water by a sail unless conditions are not correct, and then the crew paddles. Another day we hiked the steep trail to the bottom of the lush Waipi’o Valley with its taro fields and cascading waterfalls. We trudged through numerous puddles to be rewarded by a lovely mile-long black sand beach. Walking up the 1000 feet of elevation gave us plenty of time to enjoy the tropical landscape! We traveled east and south along the Hamakua Coast where sugar plantations used to exist and discovered Akaka Falls plunging 420 feet. (We failed to see the two creatures who supposedly migrate back up the falls at the end of their life cycle: a goby fish and an ancient shrimp.) Our last dinner was one with  traditional Hawaiian cuisine in a Hilo restaurant filled with locals eating lau-lau (chicken, beef or port wrapped in taro leaves and steamed), rice and macaroni salad. Leslie tried the chicken lau-lau and a deliciously decadent lava cake was shared at the end of our final celebratory meal.

Here are a sampling of photos of the great beauty that reveals itself at every turn on the Big Island of Hawaii:


17 Responses to “Celebrating 50 years of marriage in our 50th state, Hawaii”

  1. Shane says:

    It looks like a wonderful time, but who is that hansom couple in the first photo 😉

    Our anniversaries are almost the same. Stormy and I were married on July 20, 1974.

  2. Kathy and Mike says:

    Congratulations on 50 wonderful years together.
    Thank you for sharing your family celebration with us.
    You can expect many more marvelous years of fun!!!

  3. virginia garlitz says:

    Dear Val and Leslie,
    CONGRATULATIONS ON 50 YEARS OF WHAT LOOKS LIKE A WONDERFUL LIFE WITH A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY. How perfect to have gone to our 50th state to celebrate. Thank you for letting us see your photos-great as always.

    One question though. Did n’t we both get married in 1969? And didn’t we meet you on the train while we were both on our honeymoon? Doesn’t that make 45 years? That was what we celebrated this year. Have we humanists failed math again???
    Much love to you and many more perfect years.

    Bob and Virginia Garlitz

    • val says:

      You two were on your honeymoon, but we were celebrating Val’s finishing grad school and met you when we were on our Grand Tour of Europe. (We spent almost all of our savings on our 3 month trip and then returned, poor but happy, to start a new phase of our lives.)

  4. Katy Nollman says:

    I can almost smell the frangipani. Love your photographs as always! Seeing the family, all in action, makes a very good case for celebrating this very important and SUCCESSFUL 50 year relationship!!

  5. Shirley Paterson says:

    Wonderful photos. I especially like the wave shapes/forms. Hmm — looks like my yard-find hat made a trip to Hawaii?!
    Cheers & congrats,

  6. Beth & Bob says:

    The photos are wonderful artistic—-I need to purchase a better camera! This appears to be the perfect getaway for all, and the happy faces of your handsome family confirm it.

    We hope to get to the Big Island on our next trip over. Would love to explore some of these special places!


    Beth & Bob

  7. Eric Adelberger says:

    Dear Val and Leslie,

    your 50th anniversary adventure was fabulous as were the photos of family and nature. You two certainly know how to enjoy life! I especially liked the extraordinary artistic shots of golden fish and reflections, and was mystified with the one apparently showing two eels copulating??


    • val says:

      Leslie took the koi shots in one of the hotel’s interior pools. She knew her fish pixs had potential, but was surprised to see how dramatic the reflections made them. As for the eels, she stumbled upon 2 tourists feeding the eels bread, and the eels are vying for the few last crumbs…..

  8. Adriane Tom T-Bone Justina says:

    Thank you for the great memories Come back on your 51 and we will help you celebrate. Aloha

  9. val says:

    Sounds like a super idea!

  10. Ellen Fisher says:

    I really enjoyed seeing all the members of your family and being able to identify them. And, of course, I enjoyed the photos very much. They are beautiful, as usual. What a great idea and how well it seems to have been executed as well. Congratulations!

  11. Jen Johnson says:

    Congrats on 50 years! You all make it look easy! I love how much you share together-your love of travel and learning and much more I am sure. My best wishes, Jen

  12. Elaine and Gary Derbenwick says:

    Hi Leslie and Val,
    Congratulations on your 50th! You all look like you had a wonderful time on the Big Island. Loved the original picture from 1964. Looks like we were part of the same era of brides and grooms!

    Gary’s dad actually grew up on the big island not far from Hilo. He had visited as a child and we returned there just a few years ago. Watched a ceremony of outriggers in a parade on Hilo Bay. They told us we were really lucky to have no rainy days while there. Gary’s mom always talked about the rain in Hilo whenever they visited. What a variety of great places to adventure to for your 50th. Our 50th comes in not too long -June 18, 2016. We just spent time in Seattle with Jonna’s family and part of the discussion was thinking about a place for our 50th celebration. Hawaii is getting lots of votes, especially from the grand kids.

    Was happy to see your picture of the whales. Jonna and Jeremy went back to the “big house” on Smuggler’s Cove Rd. with his family this summer (I am thinking near July 4) and were able to actually see the whales, this time right from the deck. They had another wonderful time there again. Little Emerson, then probably near 7 months old, and newly crawling, gave them some great chases!

    Your Canyonlands adventure sounded pretty arduous, but knowing the kinds of adventures you have had this one probably fit right in. Not sure we could handle the rigor!

    Happy New Year to You! We had two families here over Christmas – Ali and Kurt and family are settling nicely into the Castle Pines area, Michelle and family moved to a new (older) house in the Willow Creek area of Denver. It is great having both families closeby. We traveled to Kauai and Maui this summer and also visited Seatlle. Looking forward to February skiing in Breck. So far we have two great little skiiers, Milo and Ayden, joining us on the slopes. After several years in Atlanta, Addison will probably now have the opportunity to learn skiing skills. The three 5 year olds are not far behind. Emerson will be great on a sled right behind the condo.

    Love getting your great yearly newsletter. Maybe now that I am finally fully retired (July1), I can get a bit more savvy on getting out the family news. We have lots of slides to get through and even more pictures that came after slides. Guess I’d better get out those old wedding shots beore the 50th comes along!

    Elaine and Gary

  13. Laurel McLeod says:

    …and you two have known how to make the very most of all of those years. Bravo!!
    Hugs from Laurel

  14. Debby and Rick says:

    We’re a little behind the times viewing the pics and hearing the online news. Belated happy 50th anniversary (now that it’s 51 years…)! You two always impress with your loving banter with each other, your obvious closeness, and how you draw in friends to be part of your lives. Cheers! Salud! Prost! L’Chiam! Yasou! Chin-Chin!

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